Boxing trainer wants alternative venue while Shreveport’s Bilberry Park is closed for renovations

Man says park renovations negatively impacting his boxing program, the neighborhood

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport man says he loves using boxing to help keep young men off the streets and out of trouble.

Now he says he is searching for an alternative venue for his program because the city has shut down his training facility for renovations.

Stevan Walpool says he used to teach boxing in the Bilberry Park gym in the city’s Queensborough neighborhood.

City officials shut down the park in April for what they say were much needed improvements.

"Once they threw us out, where do these babies got to go? So they really just throwing away … they’re throwing away lives,” Walpool says.

The former kick boxer says the sport was his way of fighting crime in the city. “If you can dodge a punch, you can also dodge what’s going on in these streets.

”And I feel like, that if SPAR was gonna close the gym down, even our commissioner, they could’ve at least replaced us and put us somewhere else," Walpool continued. “They didn’t even replace us; they just threw us out.”

City officials say the center will only be closed temporarily.

But Walpool thinks the effects of not having it around already are being felt throughout Queensborough.

“I know that this gym made a big impact to a lot of these babies around here. I know it did. And now with it being closed, I think they feel like they have nowhere to go.”

The park improvements include a new enclosed basketball gymnasium, a kitchen, a concession area, an exercise room and restrooms.

Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation says the center will be back up and running by March.

The $1.5 million project is being funded by the city’s 2011 bond program.

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